Lisa Hirmer | Tender Scores for Here and the Not Yet Here | Online

The University of Lethbridge Art Gallery is pleased to launch Lisa Hirmer’s online exhibition, Tender Scores for the Here and the Not Yet Here, and the accompanying essay Pandemic Palimpsest by Louise Barrett.

The University of Lethbridge Art Gallery commissioned artist Lisa Hirmer to create Tender Scores for Here and the Not Yet Here as an immediate reaction to the strange and sudden new reality of life during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project was initially an improvised, ongoing response produced for the uLethbridge Art Gallery’s Instagram and Facebook accounts during the first weeks of sheltering at home. Hirmer has adapted the posts for an online exhibition and Louise Barrett, a Professor of Psychology and Canada Research Chair in Cognition, Evolution & Behaviour at the University of Lethbridge, has written a powerfully personal text in conversation with Hirmer’s work. The project is curated by Josephine Mills, Director/Curator of the uLethbridge Art Gallery. She and Barrett have a long-term research partnership as part of Level 2: Lichen Lab and the uLethbridge Art Gallery.

Mills invited Hirmer to quickly address the world-wide lockdown and distressing emotional effects of the pandemic because the artist had previously created art work that discussed collective responses to emergencies and how we conceive of uncertain futures. This included a project Hirmer did with the uLethbridge Art Gallery in 2017, Plant Tenders and Other Future Currencies. For Tender Scores for Here and the Not Yet Here, Hirmer states that: “I want to offer something that is quiet and contemplative. These simple meditations are a way of sharing my attempts at making sense of this urgent and troubling time.” Deliberately offering the opposite of the flood of live and interactive digital content, these offerings ask for no reply. The project is an experiment in creating amidst great uncertainty and change.

Tender Scores for Here and the Not Yet Here is the first in a series of specifically online projects commissioned by the gallery. The new section on the website is a response to the physical closure of exhibition spaces and cancellation of in-person programs. This section will remain on the website once the physical doors re-open. uLethbridge Art Gallery wants to continue to dive deeply into the issues that affect our lives.

To support this in-depth and immediate response, uLethbridge Art Gallery invited Barrett to write whatever she wanted in response to Hirmer’s unfolding posts on social media. The two have met before when Hirmer worked with the gallery and they renewed their relationship with a wide-ranging email correspondence as they reflected together on the upheaval in daily routines, emotions, and future plans in response to the pandemic. Alongside and informing her impressive academic work, Barrett is an avid reader and gallery-goer. Her beautiful and vulnerable text, Pandemic Palimpsest, is her first text written in response to an art project and weaves together ideas from novels, pop culture, cognitive theory, field work experience studying monkeys in South Africa, news, and social media.